Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a $ 2 billion financial stimulus package to encourage a return to personal tutoring for elementary school students in California as early as mid-February, an effort that would fund repeated coronavirus tests for students, teachers and staff.
The proposal would not immediately open any additional campuses, given bleak public health conditions in most parts of the state, and it remains unclear how quickly many areas will qualify, especially those in large metropolitan areas in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area.
In its announcement, Newsom said there is growing evidence that young students face “fewer risks” associated with the coronavirus and have benefited more from personal guidance compared to learning at home.
“As a father of four, I know first-hand what parents, teachers and pediatricians keep saying: Personally, it is the best place to meet not only the learning needs, but the mental health and social and emotional needs of our children,” Newsom said in a statement. “In the midst of this pandemic, my administration is focusing on getting students back into the classroom in a way that is conducive to student and teacher health.”
Parents will still have a choice to keep their children learning from home, even if their local schools reopen.
The Newsom plan, which is expected to be submitted to the legislature as an amendment to the state budget for the current fiscal year, prioritizes students returning from kindergarten through second grade to the semester as well as those with special educational needs. The rest of elementary school students can return early sometime in March. It remained unclear when the older students would return to campus.
All school staff and students returning to school will be required to wear masks.
Educational sources who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity before the official announcement said that a number of questions remain unanswered. They said administration officials planned to make local implementation plans subject to collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and officials in each district.
Although the Newsom administration will support COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff and students, the governor’s plan does not appear to require testing. The governor said school staff will be “prioritized” for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Newsom said schools in counties with an average of seven days of fewer than 28 cases per 100,000 residents would be eligible to open – a limit that allows some schools in Purple Layer districts to resume classes in person. Los Angeles County and many other metropolitan areas are experiencing much higher rates of transmission and they are not expected to reopen for some time.
Education advocates may be particularly concerned about the details of how the plan will be funded. The proposal includes $ 2 billion as part of guaranteed funding for schools under the California Constitution – meaning that funds for coronavirus testing and other needs will be spent on a variety of current school programs.
Under the Newsom plan, districts offering personal education would receive about $ 450 per student, a number that could increase for those in low-income families, English language learners, and teens.
In November, supervisors from some of California’s largest school districts – including the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Long Beach Unified School District – sent a letter to Newsom urging him to establish common statewide standards for school reopening, including test requirements. Standards of social distancing and employee protection.
The announcement comes months after Newsom demanded a set of far-reaching statewide guidelines on when to reopen the K-12 campus. The governor’s most prominent decision regarding when to resume personal learning, It was unveiled in JulyThe final decision remains in the hands of individual school districts as the rate of virus transmission decreased in a number of California communities in early fall.
The result, critics said, has been an ever-widening gap between schools with resources, largely in affluent societies, and those serving low-income families that are left to full-time distance learning. Those criticisms also indicated that a number of private schools were to open first, and that they were allowed to remain open even as local public health conditions deteriorated.
Earlier this month, a group of prominent Democrats in the legislature demanded a plan that would closely link the resurgence of personal learning with lower rates of local virus transmission. Legislation introduced earlier this month will require school districts to open campuses in California counties that have been removed from the more restrictive “purple” level of COVID-19 protection. The current policy makes reopening schools at less restricted levels optional.
Funds for the new effort will be included in Newsom’s budget proposal for next year, which will be unveiled next week. Legislative Analysts The governor estimated the large unexpected tax revenue gains – from $ 15.5 billion or more Resulted from a smaller-than-expected decrease in personal income taxes paid by California residents. Some of the windfall revenue will automatically be spent, under longstanding rules, on public schools, but lawmakers could add more money to this total to support the governor’s proposal and other efforts.